Mindful Transitions, by Geneviève Major
Mindfulness is a term that we often hear these days. The word is so trendy that one could think that it can be applied to anything. Which is…right!
“Paying attention to what’s happening in the present moment in the mind, body and external environment, with an attitude of curiosity and kindness”
Mindfulness is usually defined as “paying attention to what’s happening in the present moment in the mind, body and external environment, with an attitude of curiosity and kindness” (Mindful Nation UK*1).
Paying attention to the present moment is a capacity of our human brain that we can train with mindfulness meditation. Just like we would train cardio with physical activity. This means that we can, indeed, be mindful in every aspect of our life and in anything that we do. In fact, very experienced meditators and yogis tend to “rest” in mindfulness or be mindful as they go along their daily activities (R. Davidson, 2017*2).
Mindfulness, but, what for?
But, what for?, one might ask. Valid question. With an equally valid answer: mindfulness is the entry door to self-awareness and self-management. It is what allows us to see our emotional patterns, our natural tendencies, our strengths in action. It is about “coming back to our senses”, being in touch with ourselves, with others and our surroundings in the present moment. It is a natural and an intuitive state of presence in which we can feel more connected, real and alive.
Transitions are moments particularly conducive to naturally be more mindful
Somehow, transitions are moments particularly conducive to naturally be more mindful. From small transitions, like moving from sitting on a chair to standing up and feeling our legs which brings us back in the present moment for a fraction of second before we get lost into thinking again, to more significant transitions such as moving to a new country, to a new job, to a new city. Who has not felt deep connexion with their own feelings as they say goodbye to friends? Friends they know they might not see again soon. Leaving to the airport to catch a one-way flight that brings them to the soon to become new “home” country? Who has not felt that strange sense of discomfort or relief perhaps, sitting deeply in their seat as the plane gains speed for take off?
These moments are short moments of mindful awareness; we are suddenly right here, right now. They are often rich in information. Information about our state of mind, about our emotional state, and about our purpose and values. This is what naturally emerges from any moment spent in mindfulness.
There is a term in coaching that is called “liminality”. It means the moment of opportunity for change. When we have not yet fully left what we were before, and yet not fully become what we will be in the future.
Yes, change can feel threatening. But it is also an opportunity to grow.
This is where mindfulness and coaching can really help. First, in seeing the transition, second in seeing our reactions to the transition. We can either see transitions as opportunities or as problems. So much depends on our mindset. New environments are good opportunities for our brain to rewire itself. In the newness of the new place or situation, we wake up again to the wonder of life, to our capacity to change, to our capacity to adapt.
Working mindfully through transitions ensures that changes become opportunities for growth.
*1) Mindful Nation UK. Report by the Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group (MAPPG). October 2015. https://www.themindfulnessinitiative.org/Handlers/Download.ashx?IDMF=1af56392-4cf1-4550-bdd1-72e809fa627a.
*2) Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body. 2017. Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson. Avery Publishing, USA